Court allows price-fixing class action to proceed against LCD manufacturers

February 14, 2012 by

A federal judge in California’s Northern District ruled that a class of electronics consumers can continue their claims against LCD panel manufacturers, including Toshiba, Hitachi and Epson, a federal judge ruled.  The consumers claim in California’s Northern District that the electronics manufacturers engaged in a global price-fixing conspiracy to raise prices and restrict competition in the sales of computer monitors, laptops, televisions and other liquid-crystal display products.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston previously agreed that defendants “secretly conspired” to raise prices on LCD devices to “supra-competitive” levels.  In October, she said the alleged price-fixing conspiracy had direct effects on American companies.

Two months later, LCD panel makers moved to de-certify the classes.  They said the court would be unable to identify members of the “indirect purchaser” class because the sources of LCD panels are hard to pin down.

Judge Illston rejected this argument last week, reiterating the court’s opinion that the case is suited for a class action.

“The conspiracy affected almost all LCD products sold in the United States,” Judge Illston wrote.  “Outside of a class action, it is unlikely that most of these consumers could recover for defendants’ wrongdoing.”

“It is also noteworthy that the majority of the defendants have admitted to participating in the conspiracy,” she added.  “Assuming liability is established for the remaining defendants at trial, it would be inappropriate to require potential class members to produce proof of class membership to an absolute certainty.”

Though the LCD panel makers argued that the plaintiffs’ expert did not show a class-wide impact with an economic model, Judge Illston found that the class has established reasonable models to determine which class members the conspiracy had harmed.

Steve Larson
An experienced trial lawyer who handles both hourly and contingent fee cases, Steve has expertise in class actions, consumer cases, antitrust litigation, securities litigation, corporate disputes, intellectual property disputes, unfair competition claims, employment matters, and disputes involving family wealth. Steve regularly represents individuals and businesses in federal and state court and has obtained class-wide recovery in multiple class actions. A veteran practitioner, Steve's clients value his creative approach to resolving complex litigation matters.

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